I Auditioned for ‘The Voice’: 5 Things You Should Know About the Process
Growing up watching American Idol, I have always dreamed of being a talent show contestant. I have a vivid memory of when Jordin Sparks was on Idol specifically. She was from the Phoenix area and that’s where I grew up. I was 15, which meant I was almost old enough to audition at the time, so watching her win was amazing to me. Jordin tried out in Seattle after being rejected at her audition in Los Angeles. She then earned a “gold ticket” and…well, you know the rest of the story from there. But seeing her journey start locally on Arizona Idol made me realize there’s more to the audition process than what we see on the screen. So finally, in the summer of 2017, I auditioned for Season 14 of The Voice at the LA Convention Center for my chance at stardom and to see what really happens behind-the-scenes.
Here are some of the most surprising things I learned while auditioning:
1. The Blind Audition is not the first (or only) audition.
This may seem obvious to some of you but the earlier rounds of auditions are not shown on-screen at all. While American Idol is very public about the big crowds that turn out to audition, The Voice makes it seem like the only people who audition go straight to the Blinds. This is not the case. The Open Call auditions see thousands of people try out, but they quickly narrow the field to under 100 for the Callbacks in each city. From the group of 10 I was a part of in the initial audition room, only two of us made it through to the Callbacks. The other one in my group was Angel Bonilla, who was a member of Team Adam last season!
2. If you do make it through the first round, you only have a few days to prepare for your Callback.
One thing I didn’t anticipate was how quickly the audition process moves along. The Callbacks took place only three days after the Open Calls. We were all given a specific 15-minute block of time for our Callback. I was in and out of there in less than half an hour altogether! For the second round of auditions, songs had to be performed with backtracks or instruments. The producers asked that you to have 3-4 songs ready so this required a little more planning. But as I mentioned before, there isn’t a ton of time in between auditions so that has to happen fast. The Callbacks took place in an actual studio, you sing with a microphone, and the whole thing is recorded. That is when it started to feel real to me. If you make it past the Callbacks, then it’s on to the Blinds!
3. Not everyone who makes it through to the Blind Auditions actually gets to sing in front of the coaches.
Because the producers and casting members don’t know exactly how many people will turn chairs, they essentially have to select a larger group of singers than necessary to come to the Blinds, in case there are a lot of no-chair turners. For instance, since the final goal is 48 contestants every season, casting may pull 80-90 people for the Blinds. If the teams are full after the first 70 audition, then the remaining singers don’t get a chance to try out. The Voice also doesn’t always air every single audition that happens in front of the coaches, due to limited airtime.
4. You don’t necessarily get to sing whatever song you want in your Blind Audition.
A few past contestants have spoken about this before but your first choice of song isn’t always what you sing in your Blind Audition. Due to licensing and other restrictions, contestants select songs they can sing from a list given to them by producers before the Blinds. They essentially have to “rank” these songs and producers match all the contestants with the song they eventually sing. This avoids any legal issues or repeated songs.
5. Unlike American Idol and AGT, The Voice encourages singers not to do originals during the audition process.
If you’ve watched all three shows, this probably won’t be a surprise to you. The Voice is very cover-heavy and rewards big voices that can find their “moment.” Looking back, some seasons never even had the winners sing an original song in their entire run on the show (like Season 2’s Jermaine Paul, Season 3’s Cassadee Pope, Season 4’s Danielle Bradbery, etc.). On the other hand, American Idol values more individuality, welcoming original songs and focusing on the artists themselves more than the mentoring. Some examples of this on the most recent season of Idol were Catie Turner, Michelle Susette, and winner Maddie Poppe, who all sang original songs they personally wrote. This can be a pro or con, depending on what your musical style is, but it’s good to know.
All in all, I hope this gives you a better idea of how the whole audition process works and what to expect. If you’re thinking about auditioning, I would encourage you to try at least once. The experience is a lot of fun overall! Even though the auditions can be lengthy, they’re for sure worth it considering the potential outcome. And don’t give up if it doesn’t go well at first! Even Jordin Sparks didn’t make it through her first audition.